Monday, 13 June 2011

Rules Dump: From Best of Dragon Vol IV - Weapon and Armor Breakage (Dragon Magazine 73)

I've blogged, as have others, about weapon breakage previously.

In 1983 this is what Arthur Collins said. It's harsh but very easy to do.

When a combatant rolls a natural 20 in melee, his opponent (if armored) must roll a saving throw vs crushing blow. Magic armor gives bonus.
A failure means the armor loses 1 AC
Shields are lost first then armor.
Shield +1 becomes magic shield +0 then destroyed.
Plate Mail becomes AC 4

Damaged armor can be repaired at 25gp and 3 days per AC loss.
Magic armor needs a magic user to fix.

Edged Weapons
A natural roll of 1 means the weapon is notched and becomes -1 'to hit' and damage.
A magic sword becomes magic sword +0 (allowed saving throw vs crushing blow unlike normal weapons).
No edged weapon can be reduced to the point where one cannot possibly hit with it, nor to the point where it can do no damage.
Blunt Weapon
A natural roll of 1 means the weapon  has fallen from the characters hand.
Strung Missile Weapons
A natural roll of 1 means the string has snapped. A wet string will snap on a roll of 1 or 2.
Pole arm or staff
A natural roll of 1 means the weapon has cracked (saving throw vs crushing blow allowed)
Hurled Weapon (or Unarmed combat)
A natural roll of 1 means the thrower has fallen off balance. Roll vs Dexterity or lose Dex and shield bonus and is -(1-4) on the initiative roll next round.

A character must attend to his armor and weapons a mininum of four times a year. Else -1 on any saving throw for the items.
In tropical and marsh environments, every week the character must spend all day tending to their weapons and armor.

For Interest DMG has these saving throws vs crushing blow:
Metal hard 6
Wood or rope, thick 10

But the description for crushing blow is a weighty falling object or blow from an ogre's or giants weapon.

A saving throw vs blow normal is described as an attack by a normal-strength opponent or only a fairly heavy object which strikes the object. This seems much more relevant for the above rules by Arthur Collins in which case the saving throws are:

Metal hard 2
Wood or rope, thick 3

This certainly offers more danger to attacks from ogres, giants and dragons. You survive but your equipment may not.

All up I quite like these rules.


  1. Hmm - I do like those. I need to go on the hunt for #73, I see. :)


    - Ark

  2. Just found your blog, despite following 30 or so. I like what I've seen so far.

    Good stuff here, only I consider it my function to remind people that a 1 or a 20 on a d20 is a 5% chance, and for an average adventurer, that may happen multiple times daily.

    So losing your main weapon several times a day would be a major problem. I prefer another roll when one of these events happens, tied to the quality, etc of said item. Adds slightly less tension and item loss.

  3. @ Arkhein - sorry the title may be misleading. I only own Best of Dragon Magazine Vol IV - and they were reproducing from Dragon Magazine Number 73

    @ Pukako - glad you like the blog. You will see I designed my own weapon breakage scheme but now... I quite like this new one if normal low save is used. Still gives a second chance. One would need to roll 2 1's in a row to notch your sword.
    Or a 20 and a 1 to have your armor damaged.

    So 1 in 400

  4. That's interesting. I like the "Item Saving throws" rules in Lab Lord to cover some of these topics, though that really seems to be oriented toward breath attacks and area effects more than specific crushing damage.

    The idea that you need a full day every week in the tropics to take care of your stuff I buy completely. If nothing else you need at least a full day without all the armor and gear on your body to make sure your skin isn't rubbing off and being eaten by fungus and staph infections.

    And you need to sharpen your weapons. I find it mind-boggling that a game with iron spikes, 10' poles, chickens and goats on the equipment list never mentions a file or a sharpening stone anywhere. So I like this idea of having to do upkeep on weapons, but I'd guess an active adventuring party would need it more often than 4 times a year. You can't do any serious machete work without sharpening it several times a day (accepting that machete steel and sword steel are different materials).

  5. I was going to balk at the 1 in 20 chance but you already fixed it (although I kinda like the damage to armour as it is).

    Then it set me thinking about what these weapons were: would a bronze sword nick at this rate? Or an obsidian weapon? Maybe some magic items are made of exotic materials (teeth of Vorn?) that speficically increase their chance of breakage. I don't like the idea that you simply knock the magic out of your magic sword by scraping it somewhere.

  6. What appeals to me is the increased threat that ogres and giants and other big creatures get. Some players would rather die (and then be raised) then lose their +3 armor! Now they might sweat!

    Also Aragorn had a broken sword - maybe the time your sword broke or shield splintered might make for exciting tension and game memories.

    1 in 400 chance isn't that high for normal combat.
    1 in 80 certainly worse for being hit by a giant.

    What I additionally like is the use of AD&D and applying the natural 20 or natural 1 house rule. The consequences aren't usually game changing (unlike decapitation tables and double damage for double 20) but they might just be.

    Is it nay better than what I made up myself on weapons breakage linked above, who knows...
    Anyone going to play test it?